OPINION: Rural New Zealanders and those working in the primary sector play a vital role in our response to COVID-19 and it's important they take the opportunity to get vaccinated against the virus, says Agriculture and Rural Communities Minister Damien O'Connor
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the grants will help farmers improve the health of rivers, wetlands, and habitat biodiversity as well as improving long-term land management practices.
Four farmer-led catchment group Jobs for Nature projects have between allocated between $176,000 and $2.3 million over the next three years to fund environmental improvement work across dozens of sites in their regions. These projects will also employ between 15 and 20 people as well as specialist contractors over that period.
O’Connor says most of the initiatives are being led by established catchment groups with hundreds of farmer members. The work will involve fencing and planting around water bodies, clearing of unsuitable trees and pest control. Projects also include building a wetland board walk, and structures to protect endangered fish from predator species.
“These projects, like the WAI Wānaka project I recently announced, will build on the work farmers are already doing to nurture their environment, as well as providing crucial jobs in areas affected by COVID-19,” O’Connor said.
A further $2.9 million investment will help around 300 Hurunui farmers work towards improving the health of their land and water through applying farm environment planning and sustainable land management practices.
The Future Hurunui project will provide catchment support to the Hurunui District Landcare Group for its members to use towards developing their farm environment plans.
The funding will enable the group to partner with trusted rural professionals to provide advice and support to their catchment members. The group will employ three people to do this work.
“Hurunui farmers have had a particularly tough few years, with the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake causing thousands of landslides and significant damage to large areas of land,” O’Connor said.